Two African Bull Elephants Fighting – Why do they do it?

On a day tour to the Pilanesberg in October, guests witnessed dramatic sighting that very few have the privilege to see. Even game rangers who have been involved in African safaris for over 10 years mentioned how rare the sighting was After about 2 hours of game viewing on the north western side of the Pilanesberg, we had decided to head on back to camp for breakfast. Our guests were getting hungry and we wee afraid they may decide to take a chunk out of the ranger. And he happens to be one of our best rangers and we pretty much need him for future tours. So, we erred on the side of caution and headed for the nearest camp.

It had been a pretty epic day so far in terms of the animals we had seen. As usual the Pilanesberg delivered on its abundance and diversity of wildlife. Giraffes, zebra, impala, rhino and plenty of wildebeest were the order of the day. As we were driving past Molotse dam we came across a herd of about 20 elephants.Elephants!!!!’ was the exited scream from our Canadian guest who had never seen these magnificent creatures before.

elephant walking safaris pilanesburg south africa

She was so overcome by excitement we thought she might jump out of the game vehicle and hug one of them. The gentle giant slowly strolled African time up to the vehicle. The ranger switched off the engine and we just sat back in awe as the other 15 or so elephants appeared as if by magic out of the bush. One of the younger ones came over to take a gander at these strange ape like creatures sitting in a tin box. The matriarch, ever vigilant and aware gently nudged him along. But not without a 2 minute eye to eye stare down with the ranger.

She was only 3 meters away. Although she could have rolled the car at any time, we felt strangely calm as we could sense she was calm and meant us no harm. Once they had moved on we heard an almighty bellowing sound from behind us. As we turned to look we saw two bull elephants fighting & ramming each other with tremendous force. It was a truly emotional experience to watch as these two mighty beasts pushed and jostled for positioning. And they were relentless. If the one elephant tried to run away the other would chase it and force it into another dual. At one stage we were concerned for our own safety as the fight was getting pretty close to our game vehicle. And we did not want to start the engine and add fuel to an already volatile situation. We were unceremoniously betting on who the inner would be.

Take a look at the video footage we were able to obtain while on our Pilanesburg day tour safari of these two African bull elephants fighting! 

This brutal onslaught went on for about 10 minutes. As what were they fighting for? What do all male species seem to fight for? You guessed it. They are after the sexy female elephants prancing around in their latest Calvin Klein lingerie. They are fighting for mating rites.  The loser must graciously bow down and leave the herd to find his own females and start his own family. Such is the way of nature. Unwritten rules that are obeyed. And a bull elephant on musth is something you do not want to confront.

They are very grumpy and full of testosterone. And they weigh up to 6 tons. Not a match for our 1 ton Landrover Defender. We have mentioned it before, but the Pilanesberg day tour remains one of the favorite safari destinations for locals and oversees visitors alike. The wildlife encounters and African bush scenery are breathtakingly beautiful and wild.

Some reasons why the Pilanesberg is a perfect safari destination:

  • offers excellent value for money
  • diversity and abundance of wildlife
  • 2 hours from Johannesburg
  • excellent and unbeatable guides
  • great community hosting
  • big game experiences


About Author

Adventure enthusiast, Safari expert & overall a happy guy. I love Trekking and Hiking , especially summiting Kilimanjaro. I have a passion for people, animals and the beauty of nature


October 18, 2016
Awesome footage!! We got close but never saw elephants fighting. You guys were lucky

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